5th Infantry Division offer of local peace talks and immunity is just empty talk — CPDF

By SIMON “Ka Filiw” NAOGSAN, Spokesperson
Cordillera People’s Democratic Front

During the Mountain Province Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting last 5 August, Col. Eliseo Posadas, 501st Brigade commander (of the Philippine Army), called for local peace talks and personally guaranteed the safety of the spokesperson of the Cordillera People's Democratic Front and other members of the revolutionary movement whom he invited to attend.

We believe the AFP’s push for local peace talks is just another deceptive public relations and psywar tactic.

There are peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. These talks have reached several agreements such as the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Both parties have signed the Hague Joint Declaration which spells out the principles, framework and sequence of substantive agendas to be tackled during the peace talks. These agreements and declarations are legal and binding.

Unfortunately, peace talks had to be suspended due to the government’s non-compliance and frequent violations of all signed agreements. The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front shares the view of the rest of the revolutionary movement that localized peace talks are unnecessary and disrespect previous efforts at the national level. The guarantee of safety and immunity issued by Col. Posadas is just empty talk. If the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police can easily arrest, incarcerate, forcibly disappear, and kill NDFP consultants covered by the JASIG, then it would be easier for them to disregard the personal guarantee issued by a mere field-grade officer.

The NDFP is open to a resumption of peace talks with the GRP. Noynoy Aquino in his first State of the Nation Address called for peace talks with the NDFP, but so far has done nothing to back up his rhetoric.

The 5th Infantry Division is engaging in double talk. It calls for local peace talks, but deploys additional combat troops in the Mountain Province. The call for local peace talks is camouflage for increasing militarization. Col. Posadas said that army units operating in Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province and Ifugao use the Convergence Approach, a formula of Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) that was applied in Bohol from 2003- 2007. This formula relies on a combination of palliative showcase projects and intense militarization.

Col. Posadas has made it clear that he intends to make the Mountain Province the showcase in the national anti-insurgency drive. This can only lead to more violence against the people, and greater damage to their lands and livelihoods. The CPDF remains committed to a just and lasting peace under a truly free and democratic society that guarantees the basic political, economic, and socio-cultural rights of the national minorities of the Cordillera and the rest of the Filipino people. Until then, we shall remain steadfast in advancing the revolutionary armed struggle.